Bambi is a movie that has withstood the test of time. Originally released in 1942, the movie is one that is close to all of our hearts. It was the first movie that I saw in theaters (or at least that I remember seeing) and is a story that still resonates with audiences today as much as it did when it was first released. The movie has a story that kids love, that is emotional and one that was ahead of it’s time talking about nature conservation and eco-friendly living.
Even though it’s been 75 years since Bambi was first released, the main stars of the movie – Bambi and Thumper are still around! We were able to sit down with Donnie Dunagan (the voice of young Bambi) and Peter Behn (the voice of young Thumper). The two men have lived lives far away from the lime light after voicing these iconic characters – and even at times denying their past involvement in the film by not telling friends and family about their childhood careers.
Despite being friends in the animated film, Dunagan and Behn didn’t actually meet until about ten years ago. The two childhood actors worked primarily with their voice coaches who read their lines to them to be parroted back, due to the boys young ages. Both Dunagan and Behn have fond memories of making the film, and even of Walt Disney who Dunagan says was a great model for a boss and someone to look up to for inspiration.
The story of Bambi is one that touches us all anytime you watch it – and one that often has us reaching for some tissues. But it’s one that both Behn and Dunagan look back on fondly. Dunagan says that now he uses the movie to help raise money for children and educational benefits. After all of these years, he still receives artwork and letters from children who love Bambi and even send him artwork.
The experience of talking with Dunagan and Behn was amazing and brought tears to my eyes. They are both classic Disney characters, and ones that we all still love and hold dear to our hearts. Both Dunagan and Behn are humble and almost reluctant about the attention the roles bring them even today. Dunagan is a three Purple Heart Medal recipient Veteran of the Marine Corps and Behn became a home builder and owner of his own real estate firm.
One of the most amazing facts I learned from Donnie Dunagan the day before the interviews (in a chance meeting) is that he never revealed to anyone he knew that he did the voice of Bambi. A few months before he was going to marry his wife, she only discovered his past when he tried to throw out boxes from his past. She found the dust filled boxes filled with memories from Bambi and Dracula, and brought them back inside the house. He had some explaining to do – and it was finally revealed that he was actually the voice of Bambi!
Their characters are iconic, and Bambi and Thumper are Disney classics, and Dunagan and Behn are as well. You can learn more about how the movie was made and their characters on the new Bambi Signature Collection Release. Bambi is one of those movies that isn’t released very often, but to celebrate – you can get an extra goodie if you’re a member of Disney Movie Rewards. If you buy Bambi you can get a special reward and get a tank top with the artwork design of Paul Felix (more on him soon!) on the front! The offer is only good until July 31st, but you can get your Bambi Tank Top here!
About Bambi Signature Collection Release:
“Bambi,” which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, joins the Collection on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on May 23, and on Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand on June 6. The Collection release includes a variety of new bonus material, including recordings of Walt Disney discussing the challenges and triumphs during the production of “Bambi;” deleted scenes and characters; stories and effects that “Bambi” had on the Studio, other films and artists; and much, much more. Additionally, the Digital HD release includes an exclusive, heartfelt feature on the incredible artist, Tyrus Wong, who inspired the film’s soft watercolor backgrounds and beautiful palette.
Designed to bring together visionaries across industries and diverse audiences to celebrate the power of storytelling, it is only fitting that the Tribeca Film Festival serves as the setting for this year’s announcement of upcoming additions to the Walt Disney Signature Collection. This collection includes groundbreaking films created or inspired by the imagination and legacy of Walt Disney, one of the great visionaries of the 20th century. This summer, “Bambi” will take its place in the collection alongside three other great achievements in storytelling, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pinocchio.”
“Bambi” was released in 1942 during World War II and took over five years to make due to its exquisite hand-drawn artwork and attention to detail. Beloved by generations, “Bambi” holds the No. 3 spot on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10,” honoring the 10 greatest animated films of all time. The timeless tale features an adorable young deer named Bambi who explores the wonders and challenges of the woods with his playful pal Thumper, the lovable skunk Flower, and wise Friend Owl – and ultimately fulfills his destiny as prince of the forest.
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